The daily price fluctuations of the shares in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector discussed here – primarily those from the USA and Canada – give an indication that very different interests determine events here: Thus, on many days in July 2021, there was a concurrence of price declines with almost identical percentage losses in the prices of all these shares with manageable trading volumes at the same time. In other words: The buy side held back and the forces betting on falling prices had the upper hand. However, no selling pressure could be detected, which is reflected in the amount of shares traded.
With US$ 5 billion in the bank, Plug can position itself perfectly in the hydrogen and fuel cell theme complex. This includes its own H2 production as well as the development of alliances, such as the most recent one with Renault. And it is advisable – in my opinion – to reduce the one-sided focus on the market for forklift trucks (material handling), since the major manufacturers such as Toyota and Kion are pursuing their own hydrogen strategy in the future and the devices of future generations will already have a fuel cell system included, so that the conversion or expansion of a battery is not necessary.
The time has come for new collaborations in the hydrogen sector. As noted in this year’s May issue, the number of reports about company mergers and new partnerships has increased steadily over the past months. One example of this is the partnership formed by electrolyzer manufacturer Nel after its recent foray into the solar market. In early May, the group announced that one of its subsidiaries, Nel Hydrogen Electrolyser, is now working with First Solar, a manufacturer of PV modules, to design integrated solar-hydrogen power plants.
A short time later, news broke that Danish hydrogen business Everfuel and Norwegian aluminum maker Norsk Hydro signed a memorandum of understanding to improve conditions for electrolyzers in Europe. The agreement contemplates installing the Hydrogen Distribution Centers that are being developed by Everfuel at electrolyzer sites near Norsk Hydro’s aluminum smelters to ensure the fast and safe refueling of the latter company’s hydrogen trailers.
A few months ago, Plug Power [Nasdaq: PLUG] was forced to revise several of its previously published financial statements. While the accounting errors were not severe enough to have a material impact on the statements, they resulted in a USD 62.9 million decrease in R&D costs in the years 2018 to 2020 and a corresponding rise in cost revenue. Furthermore, non-cash charges, including charges associated with warrants Plug granted to Amazon and Walmart, exceeded USD 400 million. That’s pretty notable. Do these charges have anything to do with Plug’s relatively high amount of short interest, which comes to over 50 million shares? Could Amazon and Walmart have exercised warrants? Or have they now shorted stock to shore up their unrealized gains running into the billions of dollars?
Plug Power stock is resilient. On the plus side, Plug [Nasdaq: PLUG] completed its USD 123 million acquisition of Giner ELX and United. It will allow the company to not only produce hydrogen but also start making electrolyzers. As I often noted, this kind of deal would be needed for an upward trend in Plug’s price. Moreover, the fuel cell supplier announced that it had received several sizeable orders, including a recent one from a new UK customer, Asda, a Walmart subsidiary.
In my view, Plug Power [Nasdaq: PLUG] is definitely on the right track: Building and expanding liquid hydrogen production facilities while planning to acquire United Hydrogen. The latter’s 6.5-ton annual capacity should be raised to 10 tons, thus meeting 25 percent of Plug’s in-house demand, meaning eventually the profit margin can come from consumables. Plug is also negotiating with an electrolyzer manufacturer that could or should be absorbed. That all looks very good to me. In a few years’ time, Plug intends to cover more than 50 percent of its own production with green hydrogen.
Since the beginning of the year, the fuel cell stocks covered in this issue had seen a fast uptrend, which ended with the spread of Covid-19 around the world. Fears over the impact of the disease on the global economy meant some gains were quickly lost. Still, in light of increased news coverage, multiple project announcements and the growing popularity of green hydrogen, it has become clear that hydrogen and fuel cells are entering the mainstream and their breakthrough into the market is approaching rapidly.
Cashing in around the USD 5 mark, as I recommended, may have been a bit premature, seeing that the price rose as high as USD 6, but was ultimately a prudent move. At present, Plug Power’s stock again trades around USD 3. You may wonder what happened in the meantime. Simply put, expectations were too high. The net loss per share amounted to USD 0.06 in the fourth quarter of 2019. Revenue rose to USD 91.7 million, compared to USD 59.8 million generated in the prior-year quarter, which means there is some good news.
Full-bodied it comes from the company Plug Power: In 2024, the company aims to exceed the US$ 1 billion sales hurdle and generate pre-tax profit of US$ 170 million. But there’s still a long way to go. First of all, it was possible to increase the billings (new bookings) by a good US$ 61 million in the third quarter and the annual turnover is expected to be between US$ 235 and 245 million.
The momentum for the fuel cell is constantly improving with increasing dynamics. Recent co-operations such as those between Bosch and PowerCell, but also positive statements on fuel cells from automobile manufacturers such as Audi are attracting attention. Will China be the driver again, as it was when the batteries were introduced and before that in the field of renewable energies? There, new funding guidelines are about to be introduced, which are intended to favour and strongly promote the fuel cell and the hydrogen infrastructure, while the subsidies for purely battery-operated vehicles will, depending on the radius, be abolished in full or to a large extent.